United States President Biden reiterated U.S. support for Taiwan’s democracy by declaring that U.S. forces will defend Taiwan if China attempts to invade the self-governed island. The president replied, “Yes,” when CBS News’s 60 Minutes asked if “U.S. forces, American men and women, would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion.”
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China claims Taiwan as its own territory, which has a population of 23 million and is a self-governing democracy. They have stated that one day they may use force to seize control of the island. The U.S. president has repeatedly reiterated over the past six months that U.S. military forces will not engage Russian troops on Ukrainian soil. During the interview, Pelley asked Biden whether the situation would change in the event of an attack on Taiwan.
In response to the interview, the White House reaffirmed that U.S. policy remains unchanged. Washington has always had a policy of “strategic ambiguity” – neither commits to defending Taiwan nor rules it out completely. Beijing officially claims Taiwan as part of its territory. Taiwan is a self-governing island located off the east coast of China. It has long been evident that Washington is treading a delicate diplomatic line concerning this issue.
One China Policy
In one respect, it adheres to the One China policy, a cornerstone of its relations with the Chinese government. Furthermore, Taiwan belongs to China under the policy, and the position is unchallenged. Therefore, the U.S. does not recognize the island as a separate state and has no diplomatic relations with it. As a result of the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States maintains close ties with Taiwan and sells arms to the island. The Act stipulates that the U.S. must provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself. On Sunday, Biden reiterated this point in the Sunday interview.
He explained that Taiwan has a One-China policy and makes its own decisions about independence. We are not enforcing an independent Taiwan – that is up to them,” he explained. It is worth noting that Biden had made similar comments in May when he had pledged to intervene militarily on Taiwan’s behalf in the event of an attack.
The White House said there was no departure from America’s long-standing policy. After that statement, the White House promptly followed up by stating that there was no departure from the previous policy of the United States. Finally, the White House apparently issued a statement contradicting Biden’s last claim: “The President has made this point before, including in Tokyo earlier this year. He also made it clear then that their Taiwan policy has not changed.
Weaponry Deal Between the United States and Taiwan
It is the third time in a year that Biden has gone beyond the official line and demonstrated a willingness to take military action – once in October 2021 and once in May 2022. A deal between the U.S. and Taiwan earlier this month resulted in anger from China, which prompted the sale of weaponry and missile defense systems worth $1.1 billion. In addition, a controversial visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island in August, a trip the president had deemed unwise, escalated tensions between the U.S. and China.
Some observers perceived that Biden’s comments signal the end of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan. However, White House officials have repeatedly maintained that U.S. policy towards Taiwan remains the same. Nevertheless, a deputy director at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security of the Atlantic Council, Matthew Kroenig, said Biden’s stance was “clear as crystal.”
He said, “As long as he is president, U.S. policy will be to defend Taiwan.” Kroenig told Al Jazeera that this policy strengthens the United States military’s deterrence of China and helps guide strategic planning.” He added that he believes that America is capable of waging that war. In anticipation of World War II, Hitler and imperial Japan bet America lacked the wherewithal to fight. How did they fare? Keeping the Indo-Pacific region peaceful and stable, as well as maintaining free and open access, is of crucial strategic importance to Washington.”
Taiwan Suffers a Major Earthquake
On the other hand, an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 struck Taiwan’s southeastern coast on Sunday, causing at least one building to collapse and two train cars to derail. Approximately 50 kilometers north of Taitung, the quake occurred at 2:44 pm local time at a depth of ten kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
It has been reported that more than 600 people are trapped in the scenic Chike and Liushishi mountain areas due to blocked roads. There have been no injuries, and rescuers are working tirelessly to reopen the roads. In addition, a two-story residential building collapsed near the epicenter in the Yuli district, and rescue efforts are underway to reach two people trapped inside the building.
According to an online video posted by Taiwan’s semi-official Central News Agency, panicked residents rushed to the collapsed building, producing a thick dust cloud as it caved in on itself. It is believed that the 70-year-old owner of the building and his wife were rescued, and workers are still attempting to reach a 39-year-old woman and her five-year-old daughter.